In 1960, John F. Kennedy said, “If this nation is to be wise as well as strong, then we need more new ideas for more wise men reading more good books in more public libraries. These libraries should be open to all—except the censor. We must know all the facts and hear all the alternatives and listen to all the criticisms. Let us welcome controversial books and controversial authors.”
In this same spirit, Banned Books Week is an annual celebration of the freedom to read and explore ideas that are foreign or uncomfortable to us, and of the freedom from censorship. This year the campaign runs from September 22-28, and the week’s theme is “Keep The Light On.” Censorship leaves us in the dark on issues and ideas that are part of our world and therefore need to be part of our cultural conversation. This year’s theme highlights how shutting down discussion and exploration of ideas helps spread fear, mistrust, and ignorance.
Having the freedom to explore and discuss ideas is particularly important for teens. As Teen Services Manager Katelyn Wolfe explains, “The teenage years are when many people begin the journey of seeking information for themselves, and of figuring out who they are and who they want to be.” Katelyn says that during this stage teens are especially curious about issues of free speech, free access to information, and censorship. “Teens are surprised when they hear that classic books they are assigned in school, like To Kill a Mockingbird and The Grapes of Wrath, were once banned. And they’re upset to find out that banning books is still a practice, even books they’ve grown up with, like the Harry Potter series.”
To celebrate this year’s Banned Books Week, teens ages 12-18 are invited to our “fREADdom Party” on Tuesday, September 24 at 6 p.m. The event will include banned books crafts, snacks, a raffle, and an informal discussion about banned literature and censorship. Registration is required and can be completed here.
Contact Tiffany Watson by email or phone at 423-434-4349 for more information about the fREADom Party. Visit our online calendar, and follow Johnson City Public Library on Facebook and Instagram to stay updated on teen programs at your Library.